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Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Look

Five years ago, I received a first letter from my son. And he enclosed a picture of himself; the first picture I had seen of him in over 25 year years. I had access to only a few photos of him as a newborn that were taken of him just before surrender.

Probably, I went into shock looking at that picture. Surreal doesn't begin to describe how it is for a mother to merge the image of her newborn with the image of a grown child without any images to bridge the in between period. How was I even to begin filling in 25 years of black out?

I had always tried to imagine what he looked like. I thought of him physically as a composite of his father and I. And that turned out to be true. Sometimes he is a "spittin' image" of me and sometimes that of his father.

My son and I have reunited in person, also, and reunion has made me understand that muscle movements, facial expressions, gait, body stance, vocal pitch and inflection all experienced in the third dimension are so much of what comprises and projects a person's appearance. I have realized how flat and incomplete is a two dimensional photo image of a person. The first photo my son sent me is only one version, so to speak, of what he really looks like.

I must have looked at that first photo about 20 times a day. It makes me smile when I place this photo next to his newborn hospital photo. The pose is strikingly similar. In each photo, his head tilts to the right and the my eyes can follow the the same lines of his forehead, cheek, and chin. His baby fist and wrist and the pose of his hand in the adult picture is the same. I simply cherish both photos. About two months after he sent me the picture of himself at 25, I wasn't so afraid that I would loose it anymore, so I began to carry it around with me in my purse. It was incredible, simply unbelievable to me that I finally knew what my son looked like!!!

And even a couple months after finally knowing, I realized that I was doing the still doing the strangest thing. I became strongly aware of myself studying the faces of all young men in their early 20's who crossed my path each day. I was "still searching" each face for my son; looking for the composite image of his father and myself. I was stunned to be still operating out of such deeply ingrained habit. I had to stop myself when I began surfing the crowds for faces and mentally say, "That is not your son. You now know what he looks like. You have the picture, remember?"

And I became aware of something else at the very same time.

I became aware of women staring at me with "The Look". I would catch women about the age of my own mother passing me in the grocery or at Target who appeared to be ardently studying my face. They seemed to be examining my face, my eyes, my mouth with precision 5 second timing and efficiency; just as I had become a master of doing as each five year old boy at the playground, each seven year old in the schools I taught; or each 16 year old making my change from the register at the Super America.

As I became more aware of women giving me "The Look", I began to have to fight the impulse to rush to these women and blurt out; "I am not your daughter. But I understand. I really do because I have lived this, too. Listen to me! You are not alone. There are so many of us mothers and we are finding and again seeing the faces of our beloved children! I know the face of my son!"

"Do you know about search and reunion? Do you know about the Soundex reunion registry at www.isrr.net? Do you know about CUB?"

" Do you know that it is OK to search? I know that we were told we have no right to search and that at best, we are bad for our dear children. Do you know that those are lies? Those are huge lies! Believe them no longer!"

I still do catch women who might be the age of my own mother scrupulously studying my face in the grocery lines. And about a month ago, I was strongly aware of man wearing a nice suit, who was about the age of own my father, giving me "the Look".

What about all the mothers and fathers still searching the crowds and the grocery store aisles for the faces of their grown children? How can they know that it is really OK to look for their children? How can they be better be given that message and the vehicles and support for searching?

11 Comments:

  • At 7:56 PM , Blogger AMYADOPTEE said...

    I know I do that looking to see if I can find my own mother. I look for her brown eyes. Are they as dark as mine? I know now that she is petite like me. God I wish she could read your blog. I have to hope that she is.

     
  • At 9:12 AM , Blogger dbannie said...

    oh...Amy,

    I do hope very much for you that your mother does come around.
    Dbannie

     
  • At 8:23 PM , Blogger HeatherRainbow said...

    ((dbannie))

    That's so interesting. I always think I am the only person looking in the crowds. I'll have to pay more attention to that, to see if others are doing those looks, too. Yeah, five second scans.

     
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